10 Crazy Travel Trends to Watch in 2015
Go on, live a little! Hotels and resorts are rethinking standard amenities and services for travellers. Whether it’s extravagant new spa treatments or borderline bizarre food and beverage experiences, these are bound to give guests something to write home about.
Sure, stargazing has long been appreciated by travellers, but one hotel in Nova Scotia, Canada, is taking it to the next level. Trout Point Lodge offers telescopes, astronomical binoculars, a Sky Quality Meter and laser pointers for guests to use, along with a heavy-duty Coronado solar telescope for daytime viewing of the sun. The lodge is spearheading an effort to have the surrounding region certified as a UNESCO and Starlight Foundation Reserve and Tourism Destination. Located in the heart of a “dark zone” with almost no light pollution, a new wooden stargazing platform has also been constructed to provide guests unobstructed, 360-degree views of the sky.
Cool Shuttle Rides
Fashion-forward hotel brand Hotel ZaZa, with locations in Dallas and Houston, boasts a showy shuttle service called the Magic Carpet Ride. Guests can get a free lift within a five-mile radius of the hotel in such exotic vehicles as an out-of-commission police car, a hearse or a Denali SUV outfitted with Texas longhorns on the grill.
Waiters on Water
If you’re feeling really lazy while on vacation in Punta Mita, Mexico, don’t fear. The Four Seasons Resort has thought of everything, including amphibious waiters to ensure that you never have to leave the pool to quench your thirst. Starting at noon, waiters in wetsuits swim up to guests, dishing out different amenities like Gatorade, Evian face spritzes, smoothies and cocktails. Sip on refreshing Mexican sangrias incorporating red wine from Baja California, or a Cajeta martini. Made with Tequila, caramelized goat milk syrup and cream, this unique tipple is served in a traditional calabash cup.
Foraging for produce—once the calling card of locavore-crazed chefs—is slated to become a must-try experience for discriminating diners who want to get their hands dirty. At the Rosewood Mayakoba Resort (pictured) in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, La Ceiba Garden & Kitchen enables guests to hunt for their own produce from 45 types of organic vegetation. You can participate in cooking demos, or you can watch your harvest get whipped up into a gourmet lunch or dinner.
At the fitness-driven Rancho La Puerta resort in Tecate, Mexico, guests can spend a few hours preparing or planting the soil on the property’s 6-acre organic farm, Rancho Tres Estrellas. After working up a sweat, a cooking class and tour of the farm are available, where participants can learn about and taste local fruits and vegetables.
Fantasize about owning a vineyard someday? Hand-harvest grapes, blend wine and dine with winemakers under the stars at Sonoma County Grape Camp. It’s a unique, three-day intensive boot camp for serious oenophiles held during harvest each September.
Alternative Happy Hours
The Hotel Monaco in Portland, Oregon, is redefining happy hour for humans and pets alike. In addition to pouring free wine in its lobby daily from 5–6 pm for guests, the quirky hotel provides free pet readings by psychic, Reiki master and intuitive pet communicator Deborah Romero. In addition to employing a canine director of pet relations (Daphne, pictured), the hotel also hosts Portland’s Next Top Dog Model contest, which benefits the Oregon Humane Society.
Hotel As Music Venue
Forget about no-name piano players in the lobby. Hotels are amping up musical experiences for guests with regional talent like the Singin’ Cowboy at Big Cedar Lodge in the heart of Missouri’s Ozark Mountains. Clay Self, who has performed at the Grand Ole Opry, sings country tunes at the hotel’s Buzzard Bar (free for guests and restaurant patrons) and around a roaring campfire at the conclusion of the resort’s popular Campfire and Cowboy Dinner Ride Wagon Tours.
Similarly, the Windsor Court Hotel’s Polo Lounge and Hotel Monteleone’s Carousel Bar in New Orleans showcase free concert hours, featuring the soaring voice of “the Songbird of New Orleans,” Robin Barnes (the title has been trademarked by the Unites States’ Patent Office).
Next-Level Wake-Up Call
If you’re always nervous that a hotel will neglect your wake-up call, you’re in good hands (literally) at the Ritz-Carlton Reserve’s Phulay Bay property in Krabi, Thailand. Each morning, visitors are awoken by butlers with the ring of a bell and a good morning greeting in Thai. A wake-up tray is provided, featuring a lemongrass-scented cold towel, tropical fruit selection and fresh frangipani, meant to invoke peace of mind (the flowers are usually found near Buddhist temples).
Trying to capture that effortless California cool on your next trip to LA? There’s a concierge who can help at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica. Skate and surf enthusiasts who stay at one of the hotel’s 32 secluded bungalow villas will find Vilebrequin skateboards (designed by the French swimwear brand for the resort) as an in-room amenity. For those who don’t already shred, the “longboard concierge” can arrange hour-long lessons on the Santa Monica Pier to teach guests how to ride in style.
Upscale hotels are increasingly designing noise-free getaways to guests looking for some serious peace and quiet. At the Nantucket Hotel & Resort off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, hibernation and introspection is on the menu during its “Art of Cabin Fever” promotion. Guests can enjoy noise-free zones amid a peaceful winter setting, with seasonal massages, an alfresco hot tub, a cheese and chocolate fondue menu available at outdoor fire pits and fully stocked libraries in each room.
Looking for the silent treatment in between trips? Don’t miss the “Quiet Zone” at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport. All guestrooms are soundproofed, but normal hotel operations cease from 8 am–8 pm, making the Quiet Zone, set against the picturesque mountains of British Columbia, particularly Zen-like. Day room rates are also available to those seeking solitude and rest before a long journey.
Spa Services…for Your Soul
Want to explore the mind-body connection on your next vacation? From tarot card readings to numerology sessions, visitors can gain a better understanding of their authentic selves at the Joya Spa, located at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia in Scottsdale, Arizona. It serves up a variety of astrological and spiritual services alongside massages and hammam treatments to spa goers in lush Moroccan-inspired environs.
Going even deeper, “soul readings” are on the menu at Spring Creek Ranch (pictured) in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, conducted by Carol Mann, a Harvard University-trained educator and life coach. All that Mann needs for the readings are a person’s first and last name, which purportedly offer information from the soul about an individual’s life purpose, soul-based talents and past-life karmic patterns.